Whether you are new to blogging or an accomplished writer, it is difficult to answer — What is a great blog post anyway?
Searching for the answer online could cost you hours and hours.
The problem is everybody has their own theory. So, if you ask 10 people, you’ll end up with 10 different answers.
And, who do you listen to? Who is the authority when it comes to blogging?
Is it the writers — like Jon Morrow? Or perhaps marketers? Like Lilach Bullock. Then there are tech nerds, like Brian Dean from Backlinko and Ubersuggest’s Neil Patel. There are many others — Greg from Empire Flippers, Andrej from Alpha Investors, etc.
Everybody’s writing from their own angle. Most of the time, they agree on things, but sometimes… Man!
Kind of reminds me of that old “which doctor” debate.
It goes something like this — which doctor is the best to cure an illness? A surgeon will try to cut it out, a chiropractor will try to align your bones, and a holistic doctor will prescribe herbal tea. All for the same illness!
Confusing, right? Especially if you are a newbie blogger, trying to figure out what to focus on.
I’m an English teacher turned freelance writer, so I’m no expert blogger. But, having gone through the lengthy and confusing process of figuring stuff out, I am confident I can help you. Also, as a teacher, I got really good at explaining things from the beginning.
So, here is my compilation of the greatest hits. This is the advice I found useful when I was starting out, not so long ago, and still follow.
I’ll show you exactly how I write. If you’re interested in how I do it, read on.
- 1 What is a great blog anyway?
- 2 A Great Blog Post Recipe
- 2.1 Research, Research, Research
- 2.2 Decide on the purpose of your blog post
- 2.3 Write a popular type of posts
- 2.4 SEO, SEO, SEO
- 2.5 What makes a great blog post title?
- 2.6 Links
- 2.7 How long should a great blog post be?
- 2.8 Great Blog Post Writing Style
- 2.9 Write a Great Conclusion
- 2.10 Great Blog Post has Structure
- 2.11 Use Media
- 3 Edit
- 4 Publish
- 5 Conclusion
What is a great blog anyway?
I learned very early on that a great blog is a well-ranked blog.
It’s not a colorful blog. It’s not a modern blog with just a few lines here and there. Actually, it has got nothing to do with the quality of writing.
A great blog is read by a lot of people and gets a lot of social shares.
According to WordPress activity data their users produce about 70 million new posts and 77 million new comments each month. Over 409 million people view more than 20 billion pages each month on WordPress.com sites. So, how to stand out?
I entered the world of writing for blogs thinking I already knew all there is to know about writing. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life and always had the idea at the back of my head of writing the next greatest American novel. I thought blogging would be easy, just scribbling something interesting with a cup of coffee by my side. A nice hobby.
Boy was I wrong!
Writing a great blog post requires following a precise recipe that nobody knows exactly. Everybody’s guessing and that’s frustrating at times. We are all writing in our corners of the world, trying to outsmart Google, aiming for higher rankings. Suddenly I’m all sweaty, yelling at my husband not to disturb me and demanding a new keyboard because I can’t hear myself think with all the clicking noise.
And Google keeps playing with us like a furious ocean with a small fishing boat; tossing us around, dodging with updates, and teasing us with the world of possibilities in the enchanted Google Analytics land.
A Great Blog Post Recipe
Research, Research, Research
Research other bloggers, your niche, and the topic before you start.
Before even attempting to write a blog post, you should research other bloggers, to see how it’s done. Don’t be fooled into thinking that having read many blog posts in the past gives you a free pass card.
Casual reading and reading for learning purposes are two completely different things. Now you have to focus on the text ten times more. You have to be able to identify style, structure, language, and all the tricks writers use. You should study the masters to become a master yourself.
Head over to Lilach Bullock’s blog and compare her writing to, let’s say Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn. These two couldn’t be more different, yet both are extremely successful. I recommend seeing what’s out there, identify what you like, and come up with your own style. This takes time. There’s a lot of trial and error. But, also, it’s fun to experiment.
Research the topic. When you start blogging, good chances are that you’re writing for somebody else’s blog. This usually means that you’re not an expert on a given topic, which is completely fine. Don’t worry. With research, you can write yourself out of any topic. I have written in-depth articles about prepping, working from home, e-bikes, and tarot. Funny enough, I know about zodiac signs the least.
Make sure that you don’t skip on the research part. You need this preparation phase to make an outline of your blog post, prepare scientific studies to back your arguments, and identify weak links in time. Don’t expect to produce even a short 600-word article out of thin air, no matter how easy the topic may seem.
Decide on the purpose of your blog post
It is important to know what you want to accomplish before you start writing. Well, how will you get there if you don’t know where you’re going, right?
A great blog post provides the best answer for the user query. Your writing should be user-centric, and answer-driven. So, don’t lead somebody on with a promising title and then let them down. If you don’t explain well or fail to come up with an answer, your readers will be disappointed.
AND GOOGLE WILL KNOW. Buahaha.
Write a popular type of posts
How-to tutorials, What is guides and The Best XYZ are always in demand.
They are boring to write, I admit, but it’s what the users want. The truth is that these types of posts are most searched on Google. So, you should answer some of the popular questions to be seen by Google. I read some analytics suggesting that a well-ranked blog should have 60% of such blog posts.
This is why everybody on the Internet is giving out advice like they’re Mother Teresa. I used to admire the goodness inside them. Unselfishly handing out painstakingly acquired knowledge is a practice many SEO specialists like. And now I know why. It’s all for the clicks.
Now when I look at it, I think I should change the title to How to Write a Great Blog Post. We’ll see.
SEO, SEO, SEO
SEO was news to me.
What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization. Wait, search engines can be optimized? No, you fool. Your blog post can be optimized for search engines.
(That’s what was going on inside my head.)
Wow. This is what people do? They don’t just write stuff? Some do. But you shouldn’t.
Then, I started reading about SEO, and learning, and learning some more… This learning never seems to end. My SEO folder and bookmark tab are about to explode. At one point, you just have to become OK with the fact that you’ll never catch up and just go with the things you have learned so far.
If you are new to SEO, take a free Skillshare class on SEO fundamentals, lead by Rand Fishkin, co-founder of Moz. In 1 hour and 30 minutes, you’ll be able to optimize a piece of content based on keyword research. Finding new information all in one place is a rarity, so head over to Skillshare and sign up.
There are many authority figures in the SEO world and even more useful articles on SEO content optimization. You can head over to Brian Dean’s Backlinko and find a ton of free stuff he diligently produces.
There is one article I found rather intriguing, entitled Most effective optimization strategy. The article managed to round up key people and key points in one place, and it confirmed I was on the right track in my SEO journey. All of my research was not in vain, thank God!
Choose the Right Keywords
You need to create content that others are searching for on the Internet. People are constantly online searching for answers. Your goal is to provide an answer to their queries.
When people are searching for something on Google, for example, they are actually typing in keywords. Your job is to find those keywords and incorporate them into your blog post.
Without going deep into the theory of keywords, let’s just say that not just any keyword will do. You should focus on keywords that have a good monthly search volume. What is a good search volume is another question fit for a lengthy article. Basically, it’s how often people search for that term.
I stick to targeting moderately competitive keywords. I stay away from long-tail keywords and too high (too competitive) or low (not interested) volume searches.
To help you find the right keywords, you can use free online tools like:
I want to emphasize the importance of finding keywords before writing the actual blog post. You will be able to incorporate them more naturally into your article having them in mind while you’re writing. On the other hand, if you try to put in keywords after the blog post is finished, it may seem unnatural and suspicious.
Finding the right keywords is a time-consuming art that can make or break your blog post. It is extremely important to learn as much as you can about this part of SEO before you write and post anything online.
Where to use keywords?
You shouldn’t overuse or abuse your keyword usage. Use your keywords wisely.
Make sure to put a keyword in the title, at the beginning of the article (first sentence to be more precise), in meta description, URL, anchor tags, and images names and descriptions. You can use your secondary keywords in H2, and H3 subheadings.
When you’re done with optimizing your content for one keyword, go back and optimize it for one more. Optimizing your content for more than one keyword gives you better chances to rank higher on the Google search page.
What makes a great blog post title?
Thanks to our overwhelmingly short attention span, most people don’t read past the title. Good chances are that the title and a few opening sentences will be your only chance for capturing someone’s attention. Even then, if somebody decides to read the whole blog post, they will skim it and skip to the conclusion to read the conclusion or cliff notes.
So, if your title isn’t catchy enough, readers won’t be interested in reading your blog post either, no matter how informative it is or how many hours you’ve spent researching the topic.
You should spend a considerable amount of time on the title to get it right. Try to incorporate emotional and powerful words, like Best, Ultimate, Latest, Free.
Add numbers as well. According to some researchers, even numbers catch more attention. Don’t write numbers using letters (like it’s taught in school). When it makes sense, use text in the brackets or parenthesis at the end [because research showed that people click on those headlines more].
For more information on what works, head over to Buzzsumo and take a look at their 100 Mil Headlines Analysis.
Some say that a great blog post title isn’t long, 30 up to 50 characters. But, I recently came across the Backlinko content study which came up with different findings. They analyzed 912 million blog posts and concluded that headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines. That’s a lot!
You should write your blog post already having in mind that you need to somehow incorporate additional information – mention your previous blog posts in internal links, cite other bloggers or studies in external links, or use nofollow links for affiliate marketing (Amazon product recommendations). In the case of sponsored products or services, you must use a sponsored link.
You can mention previous posts inside a paragraph or write Related post: XYZ at the end of a paragraph or entire post. This is a great technique I use to get readers to stay on my blog and continue reading.
Set all your links to open in a new tab because you don’t want readers to leave your blog.
Always find several scientific research studies to support your claims. This will give credibility to your blog post. You can explain them to readers in detail, and always put external, follow links. Sometimes, other bloggers will link to your blog post because you named valuable studies, graphs, or statistics. In the best-case scenario, you will earn much-desired backlinks.
How long should a great blog post be?
Length Matters. Longer means better in the eyes of Google because you are providing more content and therefore, more useful information to users’ queries. I always aim for 2000 words like a sweet spot — not too short, not too long. However, the length varies on the topic. An in-depth guide can reach 5000 words and more. What I know for sure is that blog posts shouldn’t be under 600 words.
The key takeaway from the Backlinko content study is that content longer than 3000 words gets an average of 77.2% more referring domain links than content shorter than 1000 words.
While blog posts are better long, everything else should be short. Keep your introduction, paragraphs, sentences, and even URL length — short. Short URLs explain to Google better what your blog post is about. Also, short URLs are more visually appealing, so readers tend to click on short URLs more.
Simplicity is key. I think that 5 sentences long introduction is probably the best. You want to grab the reader’s attention, not bore them to death.
Shorter content is more easily consumed and by adjusting your writing style to more of a conversation, you are indulging the readers who want easily consumable information. They want a lot of information but make it short (if that makes sense).
Great Blog Post Writing Style
You should write as you speak. Embrace the simple, conversational style. If you can write like you’re having a nice, relaxed dialogue with your readers, you are doing a great job. Try to incorporate humor, tell stories, and stay away from presenting dry facts.
Use pronoun You. Try to build a trusting relationship with your readers. This way you will gain fans, which is every blogger’s dream.
Use the inverse pyramid approach. Write your best stuff in the beginning. Reveal the answer to the question in the title of the blog post right away in the introduction if you can. Leave very little to the imagination. Then, you have to convince the reader that you have more valuable information on the topic to keep them reading till the end of your blog post.
This is completely opposite to Hemingway’s Iceberg principle which is more natural to my mind. I was taught to write leaving a lot of it unsaid, on the surface, not really out there in the open. Drawing conclusions is not left to the reader when writing blog posts. Modern-day readers want you to spell it out for them, give them an opinion, and the works on a plate.
Write a Great Conclusion
Writing a great conclusion is almost as important as writing a great headline.
A lot of people read the intro, scan through the article, and expect cliff notes in the conclusion. You can write a summary of the article, but keep it short.
The best part of the conclusion is called CTA or call to action. Here you can give them your opinion, and ask for theirs. Ask them a question, and remind them of the comments section. Also, you can ask them to like and share the article.
Great Blog Post has Structure
Always apply structure to your writing to make the longer posts easy to read and understand. With the structure in place, blog posts are scannable and information is easier to find. It just flows!
A good blog post should have a title, introduction, multiple subheadings and paragraphs, and a conclusion or final thought. You should label everything correctly using H1, H2, and H3. You can use many H2 and H3 subheadings, but don’t go into H5 or further because you will stray away too far from the main topic.
- bullet points
- bold text and
to emphasize something, and make things clearer to understand or find. Here I am especially thinking of Google. Clear structure gives Google’s search engines an idea about your post’s topic. This will then eventually help with your rankings.
Any good blog post can only benefit from additional media usage. Visuals like images, screenshots, charts, and videos can be used to break up the text and keep things interesting.
“A picture is worth a thousand words”
You should find related images that support your writing. Don’t put images just for the sake of images. I like to use my own photographs. Also, I turn to Unsplash a lot. Here you can find great freely-usable images. This way you can avoid a nuisance called copyright, and promote artists by linking their images at the same time.
If you can find a related video, you can include them too. Short video clips well placed at the beginning of a blog post, will keep readers interested and amused.
Edit in the end. When you’re finished writing, you can edit in peace. If you edit as you go, your writing will suffer from all the interruptions. Editing will damage your flow. So, save it for the end.
You have to edit your article. Don’t skip this step because everyone needs editing.
First, you have to correct all the spelling and grammar mistakes. You can use a free tool like Grammarly. Upgrading your account on Grammarly and paying some more, is well worth it in my opinion.
Then, take a hard look at the text and rewrite parts that need it. Don’t be afraid of rewriting whole passages or even deleting them. Think about the big picture and be ruthless.
Use Yoast or Rank Math SEO plug-ins as a guideline to tweak your blog post before you publish. It helps a lot, not just for beginners.
Edit snippet. This is the text that shows on the Google search page and acts like a summary or an ad for your blog post. Include the keyword at the beginning of the snippet. Make sure that snippet is short or Google will cut it for you.
When you get tired of looking at the article, you can publish it. There’s no point in reviewing it for the 10th time. You’re wasting your time and time is money. If you spend another day editing the text, it means you didn’t write anything new for a whole day. This is highly unproductive. Sometimes you just have to let go and send your writings online knowing it isn’t perfect.
When I first started writing blog posts, I didn’t understand how writers can finish an article a day. I used to think this was highly unprofessional. Now, I have joined the club. I am striving to finish one medium-sized article each day, done professionally. So, that means I spend roughly 8 hours writing 1500 words, editing and publishing. It all depends on the topic, of course. Sometimes I have to do more research, sometimes less. I usually take no breaks because I write best when I’m In the Zone.
Embrace the learning part before you start writing. Writing a great blog post requires a lot of SEO knowledge that isn’t taught in schools. And everything you do know about writing, you should probably forget.
This is great news for beginner writers and bloggers, actually. With research and perseverance, you don’t need writing talent to become a great content producer.
Don’t get discouraged easily. Yes, Google changes the rules of the game ever so often, but you can adapt quickly and successfully, just like everybody else. It keeps things interesting anyway.
Do you have a secret recipe for a great blog post? Are there any rules you follow that I didn’t mention? Let me know if you do!